Online Health Information

Four Ways to Use Online Health Advice to Your Advantage

We all do it or have done it before – searched online if we’ve developed a symptom or injury we’ve never experienced before. Sometimes your search leaves you more confused and you come up with more questions than when you started. It can sometimes feel like you’re suffering from information overload, or TMI.

This explosion of online health information can be valuable. Yet there are downsides, like separating good information from the bad online, and the danger of self-diagnosis. Some people rely on their own findings and forego seeing a health professional altogether.

In Ontario, 26 colleges regulate over 400,000 health professionals. These colleges aren’t schools. They are regulators that license and set the requirements for anyone wishing to practise a certain profession. They also run programs to help ensure professionals maintain their knowledge and skills, and hold these professionals accountable for their conduct and practice. If you do get information from other sources, regulated health professionals use their skills, knowledge and judgment to decide when, if, and how to apply it.

Here are four ways you can use online healthcare information to your best advantage:

  1. Do some research if desired before seeing a health professional, to help you organize questions. Leave it to the professional to provide the answers and help you understand what you’ve accessed on your own.
  2. Don’t rely exclusively on online information to make big choices about your health, or to decide between care or treatment options. Sometimes online information is misleading or incomplete and may not apply to your situation.
  3. Do ask a health professional to recommend websites or apps, including ones from trusted sources that have objective information.
  4. Don’t be afraid at your appointment to raise the information you found online. It is not a challenge to anyone’s authority.

Each college maintains profiles of all practitioners on a public register on their website. The public registers, sometimes called “Find a …” or “Search for …”, can help connect you with the right health professional. You can find the full list of regulated health professions and access the public registers at

The website represents the 26 health regulatory colleges which collectively oversee almost 400,000 healthcare professionals in Ontario. Learn. Find. Get help. Be heard.